Gratitude is an important concept that should be implemented into everyone’s life. Whether a simple reflection of thankfulness or a deep dive into larger scale appreciations, showing gratitude is healthy and needed. In my preschool classroom over the past few months, I have administered activities and practices to teach and create an environment that harvests gratitude. This has been shown to increase not only my students’ understanding of the idea, but also has shown within their actions and own reflections.
When I began to enter this process, I thought about the implementations already in place within my preschool. This drew me towards our Gratitude Song. We sing our gratitude song before each meal and snack that we have throughout the day. We give this time to be thankful for the food we are eating and for the world around us. I also looked towards daily mood check ins. This is a time in the morning during our circle activities where each child is asked about their mood and why they are feeling this way.
To make additions to these small acts that involve reflection I began with explaining in more depth what our gratitude song meant for me and then asked my students what they felt. I also asked questions regarding things they are thankful for. In the beginning I was receiving statements such as “family”, “friends”, “pets”, and “toys.” Although overtime as we explored gratefulness more, especially around thanksgiving I received much more thought provoking and personal responses from my students. Responses such as “being able to draw with markers”, “celebrating my birthday”, “having snacks with friends” showed me that these lessons led to an understanding and more thoughtful response to the question, what are you grateful for?
In addition to creating conversations with my young students a new feeling was added to our morning feelings check-in titled “Loved.” When I introduced this feeling I began with thankfulness, although students I found often used this to lead to being loved by their friends, family, pets like the reasons for gratefulness stated above. To tackle this, I often responded with well why are you feeling loved? This created a really great conversation for students to think about as well as have with me and each other that created visual reflection.
Throughout this semester I have also introduced many projects and activities that have incorporated wellness and gratitude. We create numerous amounts of artwork and practice our writing and reading skills each day. This gave me the opportunity to also incorporate topics my students felt they held gratitude for and expand on them on their own and with help from one another. These ideals have been reintroduced and carried throughout my class and have certainly grown from them.
One of the biggest aspects of early childhood education that truly makes me enjoy it greatly is the ability of children to reflect, think, and accept. Introducing gratitude and the meaning of such concepts gives young students the tools and ability to think deeper about their day-to-day life. Sometimes even for children it can be hard to feel upbeat and joyful or think of things that you are grateful for. Although it has been proven through this experience that giving students the abilities necessary, they can find gratitude and love all around them even at such young stages of development.